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The Crucible - "How does MIller create tension in Act 1

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Introduction

Angelo Nicholas 10 Heath The Crucible A crucible can be defined as a heatproof container in which substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures, which may cause any impurities to rise to the surface. However, a Crucible could also be defined in two other ways: metaphorically it is a severe test or trial and a place, time or situation characterised by the confluence of powerful, intellectual, economical and political forces. The significance of these definitions illustrates how appropriate this title is to the play. Some of the characters are tested to their limits and crumpled under the pressure. Another interpretation of the word is how a crucible purifies metal, which is similar to how the people of Salem purify the accused who confess. The accused are tested to their limits to see whether or not they will fold and tell everyone they are witches to save their lives or if they will keep honest with themselves and risk their lives. Miller chose the subject of the Salem Witch trials as it is clear hysteria, was the main cause of the innocent being accused in both Salem 1692 and Millers present time, America 1940s-50s. ...read more.

Middle

When the Putnam's enter the scene these is a clear tension being built between them and Abigail and Reverend Parris. Mrs Putman is described in stage directions as "a death ridden woman, haunted by dreams". The audience's first initial impressions are that she is a very hysterical woman. Miller's description of Mrs Putnam reinforces the hysteria that lingered in Salem at that time and comes on to be another one of the main motives in the play. She is also shown as a very confident person when she speaks "full of breath, shiny-eyed". Miller uses this to demonstrate what seems to be another main theme of the play: authority. The community in the play seem to care a lot about their place in society and will do whatever they can to prevent anything or anyone from hindering. Reverend Parris is forced by Mr Putnam into admitting the discovery of witchcraft. "They will topple me with this" is all what Parris has to say about it. This suggests to the audience that Reverend Parris' main concern is his name in society but not what danger the congregation might be in and how his daughter came to be in such a state and that other children could get affected by this unknown fear that could be witchcraft. ...read more.

Conclusion

Miller could also be exploring feelings of people bullied by certain paranoid regimes. Following Tituba's path Abigail and Betty start to chant names of town's people whom they accuse of consorting with the devil. "I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Good Osburn with the Devil!" At the end of Act one, the curtains fall "on their ecstatic cries". The audience on this hysterical disturbing note are curious to discover the aftermath of these accusations which the audience might not have understood and find it hard to believe that the supposed rational adults believe and are taking notice of the girls. Miller's motivation in writing the Crucible was to show how the terror paralysed the communities of Salem in 1692, was also paralysing the United States. During the McCarthy era, if you were found to be communist you would be accused of communism. Some of the characters in the play can be compared with a minority of weaker elements of American society. For instance, John Proctor could be compared to a communist from the McCarthy era through his evident protest and opposition of authority's decisions and rules. Miller's concerns wit conscience, guilt and justice develop into significant and thought-provoking themes throughout the play. ...read more.

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